When submissions closed earlier this month, the Rural Tech Project had received 63 proposals for technology education programs. These proposals hailed from high schools and local educational agencies across 34 states, representing schools and districts that serve between 15 and 7,500 students. Challenge entrants proposed programs that would focus on a range of technology skills — from computer science and cybersecurity to software development and game design.

What comes next in the challenge

The selection process is now underway. A review panel of experts across disciplines is the first to evaluate the submissions; their diverse expertise includes competency-based education, technology education, distance learning, rural education, community engagement, education program design, and workforce development. 

Review panelists are scoring the submissions according to the Phase 1 selection criteria and will advance the leading proposals to the judging panel. We are honored to have the following experts join the Rural Tech Project review panel and thank them for contributing their time to the selection process.

Meet the review panel:

  • Thomas Arnett, Senior Research Fellow, Clayton Christensen Institute
  • Becky Ashe, Director of Professional Learning and Innovation, Tennessee STEM Innovation Network
  • Grace Belangia, Co-Founder and Executive Director, theClubhou.se
  • Pamela Buffington, Director of Rural STEM Initiatives, Education Development Center
  • Quinn Burke, Senior Research Scientist, Digital Promise
  • Chris Carnell, Co-Founder, Codefi
  • Michael Carter, Director, TextGenome.org
  • Paula Chaon, Community Coach, Ford Next Generation Learning
  • Marshal Conley, Senior Technical Assistance Consultant, American Institutes for Research
  • Leigh Ann DeLyser, Executive Director, CSforALL
  • Sarah Ditkoff, Communications Director, FableVision Studios
  • Carissa Duran, Learning Consultant, Instructure
  • David Frankel, Grant reviewer, Semi-retired
  • Gary Funk, Executive Director, Rural Schools Collaborative
  • Douglas Gagnon, Senior Researcher, REL Central at Marzano Research
  • Chian Gong, Partner, Reach Capital
  • Deren Guler, CEO, Teknikio
  • Daquanna Harrison, Founder and Primary Consultant, Elevation Educational Consulting Group
  • Jane Heiple, Community Coach, Ford Next Generation Learning
  • Joelle Henry, Teacher, Salem High School
  • Georgia Heyward, Research Analyst, Center on Reinventing Public Education
  • Melana Howe, CEO, Howe Enterprises
  • Tanner Huffman, Assistant Professor, The College of New Jersey
  • Yixiao Jiang, Co-Founder, Feles Inc.
  • Ryan MacDonald, Senior Program Associate, Student-Centered Learning, Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Kathleen Magrane, Executive Director, Innovation Learning Center
  • Janice Mak, Member, Arizona State Board of Education
  • Katherine McConachie, Assistant Director of the Learning Initiative, MIT Media Lab
  • Jonathan Miller, General Partner, WFS Group
  • John Min, Co-Founder, Feles Inc.
  • Simone Nelson, Managing Director, The California State University Entertainment Alliance
  • La’Tara Osborne Lampkin, Senior Research Associate, Florida State University, Florida Center for Reading Research
  • Mark Poeschl, Chief Executive Officer, National FFA Organization
  • Abigail Potts, Director of College, Career, and Civic Readiness, National Association of State Boards of Education
  • Allen Pratt, Executive Director, National Rural Education Association
  • Paige Prescott, Executive Director, Computer Science Alliance
  • Melissa Rasberry, Principal Education Consultant, American Institutes for Research 
  • Mark Rembert, Head of the Rural Innovation Network, Center on Rural Innovation 
  • Derek Rowe, President, Aviation USA Aero
  • Melissa Sadorf, Superintendent, Stanfield Elementary School District
  • Drew Schantz, Design Principal, Education Elements
  • Steve Schneider, Senior Director STEM Research and Entrepreneurship, WestEd 
  • Bryan Setser, CEO, Setser Group
  • Diallo Shabazz, Managing Director, Braven Solutions
  • Lizabeth Stuck, Director of MxD Learn (MxD Workforce Program), MxD
  • Harvey Wright, Curriculum Specialist, Seattle Public Schools

Looking ahead to the finalist announcement

The judging panel will recommend up to five finalists to each receive an equal share of the $500,000 Phase 1 prize pool and progress to Phase 2, a two-year implementation period. The finalists will have on-the-ground assistance, expert mentorship, and access to virtual resources as they plan, run, refine, and report on their programs. One grand-prize winner will receive an additional $100,000.

Stay up to date: Sign up for the Rural Tech Project newsletter to receive the finalist announcement and all other challenge updates.

See lessons learned and resources from the Rural Tech Project teams.

See lessons learned and resources from the Rural Tech Project teams.